The US departments of State and Treasury announced penalties against South Sudan’s information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth and other Sudanese government officials. (File Picture: Xinhua)

Two senior South Sudanese government officials, a former military general and three South Sudanese companies have had sanctions slapped on them by the United States, allegedly for undermining peace, security and stability in the war-torn country.

On Wednesday, the US departments of State and Treasury announced penalties against South Sudan’s deputy defence chief, Malek Reuben, the information minister, Michael Makuei Lueth and the ex-military chief of staff, Paul Malong, the Sudan Tribune has reported.

According to the US Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, the sanctions involve freezing any assets they may have in US jurisdictions, banning them from travelling to the US and preventing Americans from doing business with them.

Three companies owned by Reuben were also placed under sanction, including All Energy Investments, A+ Engineering, Electronics & Media Printing and Mak International Services.

Furthermore, the US Treasury Department also issued a notice to banks that doing business with these officials and companies who are suspected of laundering money obtained through corruption, could have punitive consequences.

“Treasury will forcefully respond to the atrocities ongoing in South Sudan by targeting those who abuse human rights, seek to derail the peace process, and obstruct reconciliation in South Sudan,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.

The founding director of the Enough Project, John Prendergast, said the sanctions were a step in the right direction but that much more needed to be done.

The sanctions should be complemented by aggressive anti-money laundering initiatives to really undermine their ability to move illicit finances through the international banking system, Prendergast opined.

Meanwhile, Debra LaPrevotte, a senior investigator at The Sentry said the action taken by the US government was a welcome step in addressing the grand corruption The Sentry investigations have helped bring to light.

Six South Sudanese generals were slapped with sanctions in July 2015 by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) after they were accused of fuelling conflict in the world’s youngest nation.

The generals, three from each side of the conflict, were meant to face global travel bans and asset freezes.

The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) chief of staff Paul Malong and Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth were the targets of a proposal by Washington in November 2016 that they too face sanctions for fuelling the country’s conflict.

The former First Vice President and SPLM-IO leader Riek Machar was also on the proposed list.

South Sudan’s civil war, now in its fourth year, has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than two million people.

- African News Agency